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Artist Interviews: Reflecting on the Street Art sessions | Part 1 - D*Face

by Brian Sherwin on 6/13/2011 3:47:12 PM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


Cli Che by D*Face


Of the 500+ artist interviews I've conducted over the last decade I must say that the artists who associate themselves with the street art scene were some of the most lively characters I came into contact with. Obviously these individuals appeared to have a rebellious attitude about them-- but they also had a distinct seriousness of thought and process that I believe people often fail to attribute to this direction of art. It often seems that people like to think of street artists as individuals who are not the sharpest knife in the drawer as far as intellect is concerned. Street artists -- at least the ones I've communicated with over the years-- have far more 'going on' with their artwork than mere spontaneous urban rebellion and hostility toward authority.


One artist that stuck out happens to be the London-based street artist Dean Stockton-- better known as D*Face. Clearly Stockton's use of the name D*Face is a play on the word "deface"-- which is how many view the art of street artists in general when it shows up on public property. In that sense, Stockton plays directly into the public opinion that street artists 'deface property'. While that may be true-- street artists such as D*Face also contribute to society even if their actions may be considered legally destructive depending on how they convey their artistic vision on a surface.


D*Face is an artist who has contributed a message-- one that raises questions about consumerism and the glorification and stereotypes of cultural icons. One could say that these status symbols have become a sense of false-identity for individuals seeking to discover themselves-- when in reality they are lost in the same sea of consumer assimilation that everyone else appears to be swimming in. In a sense, D*Face captures the idea that consumerism unto itself is a form of social decay-- even if the items come in a shiny new package. .


Pop Tart by D*Face


When I interviewed D*Face in 2009 he mentioned the fact that no matter how bad the economy is-- no matter how poor people are-- they will still race to stores in order to buy the latest hot item or other consumer goods that are associated with the concept of having social status. D*Face implied that individuals act as if they are programmed to seek out these status symbols-- even if it means living beyond their means people are conditioned to seek out consumer goods that make them feel accepted.


In addition, people tend to seek items that make them feel unique compared to others-- even though millions may own the same item. In that sense, the thrills fueled by acts of consumerism are a cultural lie that is enforced by corporations-- making you "different" when in reality you are no different than the other person who spent his or her hard-earned cash on the same item. In that sense, D*Face's examination of societal actions in regards to consumerism are correct.


D*Face offered me a description of this. He stated, "I was at a shopping center recently and it was strange, people were walking round the shops like zombies or vultures circling a giant rotting corpse looking for a 'bargain'. It was surreal.". His view of consumers may be morbid-- but if you ever sit back and observe shoppers at a mall or popular store his words do have a ring of truth. That said, D*Face is not exactly against consumerism-- as he told me, he wears designer shoes and drinks popular beverages. However, he also stated that if an alternative can be found it should be considered.


Obviously there is more going on inside the mind of D*Face than the urge to deface public property-- as is the case with the majority of street artists in general. The stereotypes of the 'street artist as criminal' may have their place in culture I suppose-- but you will find that many of these artists desire to convey a visual message that has real societal impact.



Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin


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Topics: art appreciation | Brian Sherwin | inspiration 

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It makes me sad that street art has become so commercialized. That kind of art loses force when it is surrounded by four walls. There is nothing wrong with making money from it but I'd rather see it outside as intended.

Liz Wiltzen
Hi Clint, I apologize this is unrelated to your post. I searched far and wide to find a contact for you without success so I am writing here.

You featured my work in Informed Collector last week and the increased exposure to my site was through the roof, as well as several new email subscribers to my blog, so I really want to thank you so much! You are doing wonderful things for artists and the online artworld, and I for one an very appreciative.
Warm regards,

Brian Sherwin
Liz, this article was written by me-- Brian Sherwin. Anyway, you can connect with staff who will in turn connect you with Clint through the contact info on FASO. I'll let him know as well.
Thanks for your very kind words about Informed Collector.

Joan Dorrill
After reading your article about the artist, D*Face, I realized the same sentiments on consumerism were circled around in the 50's when I was in high school and college. He is just part of a new generation and is observing the same thing. I do think more people lived within their means back then, but we did not have credit cards like we do today, which makes it too easy to get into debt.
We were taught to respect each other and other people's property so I do not believe in defacing public property. Defacing your own property is OK, but wasteful. Why can't these artists paint on paper and put up posters outside.

Brian Sherwin
Joan, you'll find that many street artists work upon buildings that have been neglected in the first place. I'm not suggesting that makes it acceptable from a legal view-- but I'd rather see an interesting work of art on an old building that has not been cared for than just a standard neglected building.

What I find odd is that the government will spends thousands cleaning up street art on neglected buildings-- many of which are public property-- but won't spend money to repair those building so that they can actually be used for something more than an artists canvas, if you will.

That in itself is a statement to think about.


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